Google Instant

  |   jim's digital lab

Google has introduced a new product for its primary search function: Google Instant. If you go to Google’s main search page and begin typing a search query, you’ll see that with each keystroke of your search query, the search results and surrounding search ads that appear on those pages will be automatically updated…instantly. Google has put together a short introductory video that shows you how Google Instant works. You can see that video by clicking here.

If you are searching for “Apple”, when you type the letter “A” in the Google search widget, the screen changes and a page of search results will quickly appear before you begin to type the letter “p”. In some cases, the search query may return the word “Amazon” after you type the “A”…not “Apple.” Google is using what they call “predictive search”, and that basically means that based on the billions of searches done on Google each day, if a search query STARTS with the letter “A”, by and large most users “predictably” completed the search string with the rest of the letters to type the word “Amazon.” Google’s engines make presumptions for you! However, if your second keystroke is a “p”, the search engine automatically shifts gears and based on its predictive model, may presume that the next most likely search result you were looking for is “Apple.”

For advertisers who buy “impressions” vs. “clicks” using Google Keywords, this new search process cause some upheaval in how SEO works. If you pause for 3 seconds between letters, all the search impressions delivered on the page will count as an impression even if there is no way you will ever scroll down to all the keyword-based ads on the page before you hit your next keystroke. The question raised by many SEO experts who’ve been blogging about this since the product was announced: “how do you do SEO for letters of the alphabet versus entire strings of keywords?”

A good friend of mine with whom I worked in technology for years, who is now a CEO of a mid-sized Silicon Valley company, posted on my Facebook wall that at first blush: “The consensus is that it will help the long tail, hurt the parasites that live on mistyping, and be neutral for the head end sites.” What this basically says is that short, to-the-point keyword searches (such as “Apple”) won’t be affected very much as these are the head-end results in the search bell curve’s heaviest bulge (i.e., most frequent). Long tail searches are search queries where search modifiers (“best and cheapest Apple iMac”) present fewer search results because of the modifiers that filter the search results, but which are less competitive on a keyword basis because search results that produce these combinations of search words used will be smaller but more targeted. When he talks about parasites, he means the  “experts” who will recommend keywords based on misspelling (“Appel”, “Aplle”, “Aple”, etc.). There is a theory that you can cheaply buy keywords based on mistyped search queries and earn a living selling products on the search results page because of it. These people are frowned upon by many in the Search industry.

Nonetheless, it will be important for all of us to remain on top of these changes because it COULD affect the organic search results for your websites. As more golf industry advertisers begin buying search-related advertising on the web, Google Instant may change the landscape in terms of keyword costs as well as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Search Impression results.